Coal

Can coal plants afford EPA’s new air-toxics rule

LAWRENCEBURG, IN — “There’s another side to this story, however, and it’s well represented by Brandon Shores, one of Constellation Energy’s biggest coal-fired plants (almost 1,300 megawatts), just outside Baltimore on the Chesapeake Bay. Its scrubber has been running since early last year — because it’s required by Maryland law.

The Brandon Shores plant will meet the EPA’s new air toxics rule by ‘an ample margin,’ said Paul Allen, Constellation’s senior vice president for corporate affairs.

Constellation broke ground to build the scrubber in June 2007 and finished in September 2009. At the peak of construction, 1,385 people worked on it.

Allen said he’d heard the complaint that the EPA wasn’t giving industry enough time.

‘That doesn’t square with our experience,’ he said. As with any construction project, there was a trade-off between how much was spent and how fast the work got done. The state deadline made Constellation move fast, and it spent $885 million. It also added 30 jobs to run the pollution-control equipment — and it remains profitable.

Today, the white plumes rising from two new stacks at the plant emit mostly water vapor and carbon dioxide. The scrubber — a large chemical plant next to the plant — cuts 95 percent of the sulfur dioxide, which contributes to soot, and 90 percent of the mercury.”

—Renee Schoof, McClatchy Newspapers

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